Founded in 1948: Initially the Council of Parent and Parent-Teacher Associations of Scotland, the organisation was renamed Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) in 1976 and is now Connect. From the outset, the organisation had the promotion of parental engagement in education at its heart. The first-known Parent Teacher Association (PTA) had been founded in Leith Academy in 1921; by 1947 many more PTAs existed and the idea of a federation of PTAs was realised in 1948.
1940s: Throughout its first decade, the organisation helped parents and schools to set up new PTAs, averaging 12 new PTAs per year. By 1950, about 150 PTAs existed in Scotland. Partnership-working has long been an essential part of our practice - when the organisation joined the Scottish Accidents Prevention Council in 1950, PTAs were able to work with local authorities to tackle road safety issues for school children.
From 1949 to 1969: much of the focus of the organisation was in passing resolutions at AGMs and lobbying politicians and directors of education to influence education policy and implementation. Resolutions expressing concern about teacher shortages were passed in 1956, 1959, 1960 and 1969. Exams, class sizes (a maximum of 45 in 1956), potato holidays, cuts in school funding and safer routes to school also featured.
Annual conferences promoted parental engagement in education and a holistic approach to children's learning with themes and talks such as Parents and the School, The Mental Health of the Child, Punishment in Home and School, Fitness: the Fads and the Facts, Foundations of Learning, Modern Developments in Education.
The 1970s: Conference topics included Sex Education, Drugs and Your Children and Violence and Vandalism. By this time, Connect (as SPTC) was being asked to give evidence to Westminister committees and to the Secretary of State for Scotland. The lobbying function and the role of the organisation as a voice for PTAs and parents had been recognised. Views were sought, for example, on the formation of School Councils (1975). By 1977, with a modest grant from government, SPTC was publishing booklets about key education policies as well as guides for PTAs. Some of these still exist today (modernised, ofcourse!) Funding came from different sources, including small grants towards admin costs as by 1978 there were 680 known PTAs. An insurance scheme was launched in 1979 for specific cover for PTA activities.
The 1980s: The defining activities of this decade were lobbying government and local authorities on parents and child involvement in education, parental choice of school, admissions to schools and information-sharing by schools with parents. New booklets such as Parents as Partners were produced. Membership grew and SPTC was recognised as the leading parental involvement organisation in Scotland. The School Boards Scotland Act (1988) included a clause which placed a duty on school boards to encourage PTAs. A government grant for three years created a secure financial footing. The parental representation arena grew more congested with the establishment of the Scottish School Boards Association and the Parents' Coalition which campaigned against national testing. SPTC conducted an extensive survey of parents which it used, just as the organisation does now with Parent Voice and online surveys, to formulate its position.
The 1990s: SPTC conducted significant surveys on pre-school education, school funding and computer provision in schools to consolidate its position. A tragic event at a PTA fair underlined the importance of insurance and SPTC membership continued to grow. Income from this enabled SPTC to become truly independent and no more grants were sought from central or local government. In 1995, SPTC became a company limited by guarantee. Partnership with the Association of Directors of Education (ADES) led to a Success Stories-themed conference in 1995. Working with the teaching unions to respond to the threat of cuts to school funding resulted in a massive protest march of teachers, parents and children in Edinburgh in 1996; our membership rose to over 1000.
The 2000s: The establishment of the Scottish Parliament transformed SPTC's role in education. Evidence was given to Parliamentary Committees on a regular basis, covering topics such as the McCrone Committee on teachers' pay and conditions , the proposed Education Bill, Clause 28 and the Exam Inquiry. SPTC participated in a range of governmental working groups including ones on deferred entry and sex education guidelines for schools in 1999/2000. The SPTC telephone helpline continued to prove popular and membership stood at over 1200 by the end of 2001. Discipline, healthy eating, school placing requests, safer use of the internet and guidance provision in schools were researched and reported on by SPTC. Meanwhile, the National Debate on education in 2001/2002 created opportunities for SPTC to lead parental discussion about what education in Scotland should look like. Anti-bullying, additional support for learning, child protection plus consultations on improving parental engagement in schools and on pupil motivation kept SPTC busy. 2006 saw the ground-changing Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act which introduced Parent Councils. SPTC worked on the Toolkit for the legislation and also ran two conferences and a series of seminars to support parents and local authorities with the development of Parent Councils. All SPTC leaflets were changed to address Parent Councils as well as PTAs. In June 2007, SPTC had 1479 members - but as PTAs gave way to Parent Councils from August 2007, PTA membership declined to 493 but Parent Council membership stood at 1703. By 2007/2008, Curriculum for Excellence was firmly on the agenda, with SPTC involved in a range of committees and steering groups of direct relevance to the proposed new national qualifications and the curricular changes. In June 2009, Scottish Government ministers announced that a new National Parent Forum would be set up to bring Parent Councils together. Government consultations on additional support for learning legislative revisions, school governance and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups legislation were all responded to by SPTC on behalf of its Members and parents.
The 2010s: If change is the defining characteristic of Scottish education over recent years, then positive changes of our own, in response to parents, our Members and the ever-changing cultural and educational landscape in Scotland, characterise this decade for us so far! Parents' Voice, our online parent survey group, was established in 2010/11 and our Manifesto was launched in 2010 at the Scottish Parliament. Increasing the training, information and advice that we offer to parents and educational professionals is a central tenet of our organisation: we continue to expand and develop this We launched our e newsletter in 2011; our Facebook and Twitter accounts continue to gain followers and to go from strength to strength. A new name and brand identity, accompanied by this user-friendly website, were introduced in February 2018.